Following record breaking June rainfalls for New Jersey, the recent high temperatures coupled with weeks of no precipitation make this summer one of the hottest and driest on record. “Wilting, withering” and “mercury popping” is how one writer aptly describes growing conditions this year – and I couldn’t say it better.
Early leaf drop and discoloration are evident. Many plants and lawns, in spite of regular irrigation, look scorched and burned. With little rain and continuous high temperatures, plants are taking a beating, in some cases failing to reach full potential for size and flowering. Even many ‘full sun’ selections in my nursery look stressed, and have been relocated to the shade house to recover and prevent further damage.
Climate change, man-made or otherwise, is a reality that affects all life. Over the last twenty years I have observed dramatic shifts in what is considered ‘winter hardy’ in our zone 6. Now perhaps I have to reconsider what is ‘summer hardy’? Extremes on either end of the spectrum have made specifying and providing warranties for the landscape a challenging task.
The best bet for summer survival is to keep plants as hydrated as possible. Lawns and beds may need heavier and longer watering in long runs of high temperatures where no rainfall is predicted. Of course, check for any current watering restrictions. For lawns, ask your contractor to keep the blades set high to 3 or 3 ½”….a scalped lawn in dry heat is fast to burn. A 2” to 3” layer of mulch is also crucial to lock moisture in and to maintain lower soil temperatures.
Plants should also be carefully sited to make sure they are in the best location for their sun tolerance. Some items may need to be moved. Drought resistant varieties that prefer dry heat and little to no irrigation (lavender, catmint, coreopsis, artemisia) will likely increase in their landscape value as time goes on. I’ll be taking this into consideration as I plan this winter for next year’s installations.
For help with any of your landscaping needs, please contact Mierop Design via the website: mieropdesign.com.